By Andrew Fischer
All you need to know before buying a Chocolate Labrador Puppy
The Chocolate Labrador Retriever is an extremely friendly, smart and loyal companion. There are plenty of chocolate Labradors serving in the military and working as assistance dogs.
It’s believed that the Chocolate Lab has lately surpassed the Black Lab in popularity.
Is chocolate Labrador the right breed for me?
If you like happy, family-oriented, friendly, loyal, active, and lovable dogs then a chocolate Labrador may be the right breed for you.
Labradors are also very outgoing, open-minded and always eager to please their owner and his family and friends. They don’t take life too seriously and aren’t really concerned over the little ups and downs in life. Chocolate Labradors also love to play and they can spend hours playing fetch or tug-of-war.
Also, Chocolate Labs live on average for a shorter period of time than yellow and black Labradors do. The average lifespan of a Chocolate Labrador is around 11 years, whilst yellow and black Labradors live on average for 12 years.
You should also decide whether you want an English Chocolate Labrador or an American Chocolate Lab. English Labs are calmer and less active than American Labs. They are also bred for show, are heavier and have a thicker coat than American Labs do. English Chocolate Labs may reach up to 90lbs (40 kg) without being overweight.
If you prefer more agile, energetic, slimmer and lighter dogs with shorter coats, then an American Labrador is a great choice for you. American Chocolate Labradors may weigh only about 70lbs (30 kg).
American Labradors often have a stronger retrieve drive than English Labs. They really love to retrieve things. American Labs are also more focused and therefore easier to train.
Is my household ready to accommodate a chocolate Labrador?
You need to know that chocolate Labradors are a bit clumsy. You should prepare your household for the clumsiness of your new dog. That means valuable antic vases should be definitely secured or removed.
Prepare to train your Labrador
Plan to train your chocolate Labrador before you take him home.
Labradors are quite clumsy and energetic so teaching them good manners is vital.
Before you take your new chocolate Labrador home you should make sure you know how to teach him not to nip and bite people, not to jump on people, to obey your commands etc.
You should also make sure your chocolate Labrador puppy will have enough opportunities to socialize with other people and animals. Dogs need to socialize in order to develop healthy, calm and respectful interaction with their environment.
Especially if you have an English Chocolate Labrador you need to pay special attention to proofing your English Lab’s obedience in the presence of other animals and people, because English Chocolate Labradors tend to be overly friendly.
Prepare to provide physical activity for your Labrador
Chocolate Labradors are quite energetic and love all forms of physical activity.
Labradors need regular exercise to keep a healthy weight and cardiovascular system.
You should make sure that you will have at least 40 minutes a day to walk and/or play with your Labrador. It would be ideal if your Lab would also have the opportunity to run for at least 10 minutes a day.
If you plan to have a Labrador puppy you will need to take him outside at least every few hours to relieve themselves.
Should you get a Labrador puppy or an adult dog?
If you decide to adopt an older dog from a shelter you should ask the shelter about his behavior and character. Many older dogs from a shelter had a complicated traumatizing past. You should expect unusual behavioral patterns that may differ from dogs raised in healthy loving families.
Labrador puppies are usually easier to train and can rapidly adapt to the specific conditions in your home.
Older dogs may need to visit a vet more often. They may also require specific food for mature dogs and specific exercise.
How to choose a good Labrador breeder?
Finding a good chocolate Labrador breeder is crucial for getting a healthy, smart, friendly and happy Lab.
A good Labrador breeder makes several health checks before breeding in order to reduce the risk of health problems in the litter.
Ask for proofs of these health checks to make sure your Labrador will be as healthy as possible. Especially important is parental clearance from Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and hip dysplasia, because these diseases are quite common in chocolate Labradors. The puppy’s parents should also have good elbow scores and clear eye tests.
A good Labrador breeder will always test his dogs before breeding to make sure they are free from genetic diseases and have desired characteristics and temperament.
Also, the breeder should be able to tell you everything about the parents of the Labrador puppy. Ask your breeder about the temperament and health of the puppy’s parents, as you can learn a lot about the temperament of your new Labrador by meeting his parents directly or by gathering as much information about them as possible.
Also, search for a breeder who makes sure that the puppies get enough opportunities to socialize and interact with humans and with other animals. Labrador puppies that are bred in the breeder’s home are usually given more human attention and are better socialized than those that are bred on a large scale.
A good breeder doesn’t sell chocolate Labrador puppies younger than 8 weeks of age. Labrador puppies that are sold before they reach 8 weeks of age usually come from a puppy mill.
Beware of any breeder willing to sell Chocolate Lab puppies younger than 8 weeks old.  Chocolate Lab puppies should not leave their litters before this age.
Before you buy a specific dog from the breeder, pay special attention to the dog’s activity level and to his overall health. You should be able to recognize signs of low energy, unusual behaviour and unhealthy appearance.
Avoid chocolate Labrador puppy millers at all cost. These irresponsible breeders breed dogs in poor conditions. Dogs from puppy mills are often unhealthy and may have some behavioural issues. Avoid buying a puppy from a mill just to rescue him because by doing so you only put money into the pockets of the puppy mill.
What are the costs associated with having a Labrador?
Taking care of a chocolate Labrador is definitely going to cost you something so you need to make sure you are financially secure to purchase, feed, groom, provide health care, and other necessary investments for your dog.
You should count with around $22,000 to cover all the necessary costs associated with having a chocolate Labrador for 11 years. Total annual cost of having a Labrador is around $1,870.
You can find more about Labrador puppy prices and costs of veterinary and other bills for Labs in THIS ARTICLE.
Should you adopt a chocolate Labrador from a shelter?
Adopting a dog from a shelter is becoming quite popular recently because it’s a very rewarding experience.
Many shelters and rescue societies want to check you out to make sure that your lifestyle, character and home is suitable for a happy life of a shelter dog.
You should also ask for as many details about the dog as possible and visit him in the shelter before adopting him.
You should know that dogs that are found in shelters often have some behavioural issues and a complicated traumatizing past. They are also not the best trained dogs. However, with the right care, proper training and a lot of love, these dogs are often able to overcome their deficiencies.
Are you ready to take care of an old Labrador?
Taking care of an old and sick chocolate Labrador is a big challenge for many dog owners.
Older Labradors suffer from declining eyesight and hearing, hip and elbow dysplasia, and other health problems.
Older Labradors also tend to overeat and become less active, which leads to obesity, increased stress on joints, or the development of cardiovascular diseases.
However, even senior chocolate Labradors can still live a happy life. Just keep an eye on their weight as they age and don’t forget to visit your vet regularly.